Start-up unleashes bikers to pick up your prescription meds

Say goodbye to pharmacy visits altogether, says entrepreneur Stu Libby.

"Good health starts with a pharmacy visit. Believe it or not, one in three prescriptions written are never filled," Libby told CNBC. He said his remedy is Zipdrug, a start-up offering prescription drug delivery on demand.

The service works via Zipdrug's mobile app or the company's website. Users snap a photo of their insurance card and enter details about payment, pharmacy and delivery address.

Once a prescription is filled, Zipdrug dispatches bike messengers who go to the pharmacy for you to pick up your medication. The start-up promises delivery from the pharmacist to your home or office within minutes. And users can track their delivery from their smartphones, similar to how Uber clients can track their drivers.

The service fee for users is $10, but Zipdrug works with some pharmacies that cover the cost for the patient. For now, services are only available in New York City and parts of New Jersey.



The diagnosis

Zipdrug’s mobile app
Source: Zipdrug
Zipdrug’s mobile app

Angel investor Kelly Keenan Trumpbour was concerned about how the start-up would be able to manage safety concerns, such as drugs ending up in the wrong hands.

"We track the latitude, the longitude, the altitude and require a photograph of the package at pickup and at drop-off, and a name and a signature from that patient or else we don't release that medication," she added.

Concerned about competition, New York Angels board member Alicia Syrett wondered how Zipdrug could defend its bottom line from others taking on a similar business model.

Libby argued that in addition to the size of the market in Manhattan and New Jersey, the company's partnership with CityMD, one of New York's urgent-care facilities, makes Zipdrug more viable than potential competitors. The start-up currently has kiosks installed at CityMD offices, where patients can set up a delivery of their prescription medications right from the doctor's office.

While Zipdrug is not replacing the actual pharmacy, it does compete with pharmacies that offer their own delivery services.

But Nat Burgess, an angel investor who's invested in tech companies in the health space, worried about competition on a bigger scale. He questioned if Zipdrug would be able to stand up to major nationwide delivery retailers like Amazon.

Libby said he believes Zipdrug's Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 compliance gives the start-up a leg up. "It's difficult for major companies to start over and become HIPAA compliant. We started from a position where we can do exactly what we need to do, which is just delivering consumer health care to patients," he told CNBC.

Although the company would not disclose any specific revenue numbers, it said more than 10,000 patients use its services, and it plans to reach patients nationwide in the near future.

Since launching in 2015, Zipdrug has raised $2.6M in funding. Key investors include Collaborative Fund, Lux Capital and Montage Ventures.


— By CNBC's Joanna Weinstein

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